Advent has begun! As the Christian Church celebrates its “New Year,” it’s fun to look at C.S. Lewis’ essay, “Xmas and Christmas: A Lost Chapter from Herodotus.” He describes the predicament of secularized western civilization. Reversing the spelling of “Britain,” Lewis points out how a new holiday has displaced a profound holy-day.
In the middle of winter when fogs and rains most abound, [the Niatirbians] have a great festival called Exmas, and for 50 days they prepare for it (in the manner which is called,) in their barbarian speech, the Exmas Rush.
When the day of the festival comes, most of the citizens, being exhausted from the (frenzies of the) Rush, lie in bed till noon. But in the evening they eat five times as much as on other days, and crowning themselves with crowns of paper, they become intoxicated. And on the day after Exmas, they are very grave, being internally disordered by the supper and the drinking and the reckoning of how much they have spent on gifts and on the wine.
A few among the Niatirbians have also a festival, separate and to themselves, called Crissmas, which is on the same day as Exmas. And those who keep Crissmas, doing the opposite to the majority of Niatirbians, rise early on that day with shining faces and go before sunrise to certain temples where they partake of a sacred feast.
But as for what Hecataeus says, that Exmas and Crissmas are the same, this is not credible. It is not likely that men, even being barbarians, should suffer so many and so great things (as those involved in the Exmas Rush), in honor of a god they do not believe in.
Niatirb might just as well be the Setats Detinu. We see the same signs all around us. One shocking fact is how the secular seasonal movies now do not even feel compelled to offer the slightest nod to the true meaning of the season. Santa, for many, has utterly eclipsed the Babe in the manger. And “Christ” has literally been crossed out of Xmas.
May this entertaining portrait remind each of us of the true significance of the approaching season. And, may God also use the season of Advent to prepare our individual hearts to receive the most priceless and precious Christmas gift ever given.
19 thoughts on “C.S. Lewis on Xmas”
I still have hope for Christmas – there are still many who remember what it is. But Thanksgiving? I’m not sure that holiday can be saved.
Very insightful. I read that this year’s Presidential Proclamation for Thanksgiving did not even reference the One to Whom we are historically giving thanks as a nation.
SIgh. What can I say? And who’s teaching what to the kids listening? Always a good read on this blog
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Maybe I’m cynical, but could we just let the world have Dec 25th? Best evidence shows Jesus was born in March or September, anyway. Can we just move Jesus Day a few months?
Either direction would be fine, really.
I’d prefer a more accurate date myself, but I’m pretty sure that eventually the world would try to claim and commercialize that as well . . .
Yeah, but a guy can hope, can’t he?
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Wonderful commentary by Lewis and you.
I just wrote a post called Perception, is Everything, using the final scenes from the last book in the Chronicles of Narnia! What a coincidence.that I see your blog for the first time the next day.love this post
I enjoyed this – and the fascinating subsequent comments. I found another piece by C S Lewis, which you may care to look at as a companion to this: http://www.layanglicana.org/blog/2012/12/21/c-s-lewischristmas-and-what-it-means-to-me/
Its amazing how much care and effort were put into insuring that nothing but wholesome things go into our mouths, and carelessly toss any old thing into our minds.
C,S,Lewis can be taken in large doses and serves to rectify the humors. Can’t get enough of him.
Great insights! Thanks for the reminder to keep our focus in the right place…at Christmas and all year.
I am a great admirer of CS Lewis, but hadn’t read this essay before. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.
It’s my privilege. Glad you enjoyed it.
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